A while back I found myself in Edmonton, Alberta (Canada) with my family for the weekend. This meant investigating the veggie eateries in town! We ended up eating at the super swanky looking but spectacularly vegetarian unfriendly hotel restaurant for lunch on the first day (not kidding, there were zero vegetarian options, not even the usual paltry side salad) but fortunately Edmonton redeemed itself by brunch the following morning at Padmanadis. We were quite the group that headed out that morning; a vegan, a vegetarian with a bunch of food restrictions (no gluten, peanuts, soy, dairy, corn, and a couple of other things I think), a diabetic allergic to spinach, and three omnivores with varying levels of veggie acceptance. Fortunately for all of us, we had a most enjoyable time and better yet, everyone loved their food!! Two thumbs up for that! :)¬†When we were there the restaurant wasn’t terribly busy (Sunday for brunch) and while I didn’t take any pictures of the actual restaurant, it was nice,spacious and bright with fun pictures (apparently of staff and frequent patrons) adorning the walls. My good friend who resides in Edmonton, called Padmanadi’s the hip place for Edmonton vegans and I can definitely see why, that being said I think it has a good balance between hip and modern and ‘hippie’. My parents felt comfortable dining there (unlike some of the other vegan/veggie establishments we have been to in the past, which have garnered some comments about the waitstaff etc.) and my father even talked about suggesting it to a business associate who coordinates work meetings and dinners. Also, fairly irrelevant, but I LOVED the taps in the bathroom! They were basically a glass bowl with a glass disk held above it, which water ran onto and over into the bowl, creating a little waterfall effect.

So about that food, eh? As I mentioned, we came for brunch so that was the menu we ordered off of. We had an extremely helpful and chipper waiter who was happy to answer our (many) questions about ingredients etc. and was happy to offer suggestions on what to order which was much appreciated by me the indecisive among us. In my defense, this is actually the first entirely vegan restaurant I have ever been to, and it was quite novel to be able to choose absolutely ANYTHING off the menu!! So, what did we end up ordering?

Up first is the hot rice cereal with coconut milk (one of the few options that my friend with all the food restrictions could have- as an aside, she said previously when she ate there, off the dinner menu, there was basically nothing that she could eat, however they were open to whipping something up for her) My dad also got a small side dish of this, they both thought it was fantastic and quite decadent (akin to rice pudding).

My Dad also got the French Toast (banana coconut french toast with mango compote). This was a big hit; he loves tropical flavours and french toast so this checked quite a few boxes for him!

My brother got the spicy eggplant omelette. He was iffy about the eggplant at first but I convinced him to order it anyways and I think he might have a more favourable opinion of eggplant now. Also, this came with Daiya cheese, and as one of the omnivores in the group, I was pleasantly surprised to hear nothing of the lack of real cheese flavour. I always figure that vegan stuff probably tastes ‘real’ to me because I just don’t remember what the dairy/meat product tastes like, but I would say this is a firm vote for the authenticity of Daiya.

My mom and her college roommate (the diabetic) both got the traditional eggs benedict. I think at first the non-vegan names threw them for a loop (they kept asking if the ham, cheese, egg etc. was ‘real’) but they both enjoyed it and had a fun time dissecting the dish to figure out the various components (the ‘egg’ had a butternut squash ‘yolk’ etc.).

Lastly, I got the Thai Benedict, which I was assured was not spicy, and sure enough, it was well within my tolerable level of heat (aka, basically not spicy at all). I loved the flavourings of the dish, although really with peanut and cilantro, I’m not sure how you can go wrong! :) Most of us also got the house root vegetable fries on the side, which were lovely (not greasy at all which was a pleasant surprise!) and contained taro root (the white with purple flecks right near the little bowl of salsa), which was a new veggie for many of us (and which our waiter happily gave us the name of). Since then, I got myself a taro root and chopped it up and baked it in the oven with sweet potatoes-very tasty!

That’s not all though, we splurged for dessert too (I was especially excited about this even though I really wasn’t hungry for it at all, but who can pass up the opportunity to actually order and eat dessert!?)

There was rice pudding, chocolate hazelnut cheesecake (oh yes!), and panna cotta ordered. All were deemed delicious, with much discussion on how one would make the recipes vegan etc.

All in all, I thought Padmanadis was fantastic, great food at reasonable prices, great service and great company! I would highly recommend it if you ever find yourself in Edmonton. I also really enjoyed the opportunity for the omnivores in the group to try vegan food in a relaxed atmosphere (they really don’t push the vegan aspect, which I think probably serves it well in Alberta, which isn’t exactly the most vegan friendly province! ;)) and the discussions about the food, ingredients, and preparation that ensued. Here’s hoping we all went away with a little more open minds and full, happy bellies. :)

Kathleen

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